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Local vigil reflects U.S. anti-war beliefs

Home News Tribune (New Jersey)

HIGHLAND PARK — Four-year- old Elizabeth Macioci made her stand against the war in Iraq last night.

In a pink flowered dress, with pink flip-flops revealing red-painted toenails, Elizabeth held up a sign that read, "Bring our children home," joining 180 people at a candlelight vigil on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park.

They came in support of Cindy Sheehan, who continues to camp outside President Bush's Crawford ranch, demanding he meet with her to justify the death of her son, Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, who died in Iraq.

The gathering was one of over 1,600 across the country scheduled for last night, involving 50,000 expected participants, according to registration on the Web site, which helped organize the vigils.

Similar events were planned for Somerville, Princeton, Cranford and Hazlet.

"I've never done anything before like this in my life ever," said Elizabeth's mother, Beth Macioci of North Brunswick. "But Americans are sleeping, and if people like me don't come out and protest the war, next time it could be my son."

Her son, 10-year-old Nicholas Macioci, explained what he was doing on the side of the road with his family and strangers, listening as cars honked their horns in support. "Holding signs," he said, "trying to make people stop the war."

Debra Templeton, 52, of Sayerville held a candle and a sign that read "Moms for Peace," with a peace sign printed in the "o."

Templeton saw a practical purpose in coming out to support Sheehan.

"It shows other people they are not alone," she said. "That poor woman, Cindy, just wants to know why her son died. I'd leave for Texas if I could, but I can't leave my 15-year-old — he'd have a big party."

Rutgers graduate Kate
Lochota, 22, empathizes with Sheehan's demand to see the president, even though he met with her twice already. "Why not make a big stink out of it?" she said. "Half of the nation is paying attention, and the other half is blindly following the leader. Why not talk to her if you're on vacation for five weeks?"

Tina Weishaus, a member of Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, which organized the Highland Park vigil, said of Sheehan: "She lost her son and she wants to know why. Doesn't she deserve an answer that makes sense and is honest?"

Mary Walworth, another member of the group from Highland Park, flew to Texas Tuesday with her 7-year-old daughter to join Sheehan in her cause. Sheehan has waited almost two weeks to speak with Bush, living in a tent on the side of the road. Bush, who is spending August at the ranch, has declined to meet with her despite her protests.

As Weishaus looked out over the two rows of anti-war protesters holding candles on either side of her town's main street in the early dusk, a grieving mother in Texas and thousands of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers in Iraq felt a little closer.

"Obviously, we're not alone," she said.

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You libs are pathetic. You are creating a generation that can't think for themselves. How can you use a child like that? She probably can't even spell Iraq! Let the youngsters think for themselves! I really do dispise you people. And, you have just created another little clone to work in the corporate machine... good job, morons!!!

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